ST. PETERSBURG -- He said that he's been ready since Wednesday, and now designated hitter Luke Scott is set to rejoin the team prior to Tuesday's matchup with the Royals.
Scott played in eight games for Class A Charlotte, hitting .308 with a pair of homers and six RBIs. He saw some action at first base during the stint, which concluded with a pair of multihit games for the Stone Crabs.
"Everything's feeling good, I'm ready to go," Scott said. "It's good to see the team is playing well, and I'm excited to be back."
Manager Joe Maddon said that there is a possibility of Scott playing first base at times, but he'll see much of his time as a DH whenever Evan Longoria is unable to play.
"I'll do whatever they want me to do," Scott said.
With Scott's return, the team must clear a space on the roster as well as in the lineup. Maddon said that there is some flexibility on the horizon, as Longoria may start seeing time at third base as early as the current six-game homestand, thereby opening the DH slot.
Molina hot at the plate -- and behind it, too
ST. PETERSBURG -- A .360 batting average, a .448 on-base percentage, a homer, six RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.
It might be hard to believe, but that was the stat line for catcher Jose Molina in the seven games he played during the club's 10-game road trip. The team went 8-2 overall in that stretch, and 6-1 with Molina behind the plate.
In the final game away from home, he went 1-for-2 with a run and a stolen base, but it was the pair of walks he drew that impressed manager Joe Maddon the most.
"You can talk about hits all you want, and I always say if you're walking, you're hitting. The guys who really accept their walks organize their strike zone and have a lot better chance," Maddon said. "J-Mo has a tendency to maybe open it up a little bit, but when he doesn't ... When he uses that whole field, he gets kinda tough."
Maddon added that he believes Molina, who has a nine-game hitting streak, is playing as well behind the plate as he has all year. Tampa Bay pitchers allowed just 18 runs in the seven games Molina caught. Molina said that catching a good game is more important than hitting one.
"I'm not looking at that, I don't care about that," Molina said about his recent offensive production. "I look at the pitching staff. They're doing great, and they're doing amazing this last trip, and we're going to continue to do that. ... What I concentrate on the most is my catching behind the plate."
With his two stolen bases on the trip, Molina has three on the season and is one short of his career high, which he reached in 2004 while with the Angels.
When the Rays were in Anaheim this past weekend, Molina was honored with the 2002 Angels team that won the World Series, and he was inducted to the team's Hall of Fame.
He thinks the current Tampa Bay group is like that championship team.
"There's a lot of similarities," he said. "No one gives us a chance, and when no one gives us a chance, we put a little bit extra out there."
Since Evan Longoria returned to the lineup, the team has gone 11-2 and outscored its opponents, 80-34. With Longoria in the lineup this season, the team averages 5.17 runs per game, compared with 3.86 runs without him.
Monday starts "American Legion" Week for the team, meaning that pregame batting practice will be optional.
Tampa Bay was swept the last time it faced Kansas City. The club has an 11-16 mark against the American League Central, the worst in the league.
Jeff Niemann made his first start with Triple-A Durham after a pair with Class A Charlotte. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on 12 hits and striking out three.
Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.